Gillian bradshaw-smith: mixed metaphors
May 6 - June 10, 2023
Ro2 Art is thrilled to present Mixed Metaphors, an exhibition of new work by Gillian Bradshaw-Smith, coinciding with the artist’s 90th birthday. The exhibition will open May 6 and remain on view through June 10, 2023, at Ro2 Art located at 2606 Bataan St., Dallas, TX.
In Mixed Metaphors, Gillian Bradshaw-Smith’s expansive, multidisciplinary work navigates three separate themes, united formally through her investigation into creating illusionistic spaces on flat surfaces. In her richly chromatic drawings, Bradshaw-Smith depicts ribbon forms that seem to be both entangled roots and abstracted tube-like shapes, twisting, tangling, and overlapping with each other. These shapes are mirrored in her large-scale, three dimensional works of aluminum, originally created for a 1976 exhibition at the Cordier & Ekstrom Gallery in New York City and recently resurfaced for this exhibition. Referencing imaginary beasts with trunks, the cylindrical form of these sculptures ripple in and out of the ground, softened by Bradshaw-Smith’s delicate prismacolor hatching across the aluminum surface. On a more intimate scale, her clay works are at once both abstract and suggestive of female forms. She uses colored pencil to reveal figures in the clay, calling them ‘Naiads’ after the Ancient Greek water nymphs. Unifying the varied themes of Mixed Metaphors, Bradshaw-Smith explores the relationship between the flat surfaces and illusionistic depth through playful, idiosyncratic repetitions of anthropomorphic abstractions.
For this show, which happens to coincide with my 90th birthday, I worked on three separate themes, all of which relate to one another through my interest in creating the illusion of three-dimensional form on a flat surface.
The Prismacolor drawings, which I call ‘Entanglements,’ are an exploration of ribbon-like forms, in a kind of dance, twisting and turning in and out of an abstract space.
The small clay pieces also reflect my interest in creating illusion. Here, the clay shapes, which were fired to a bisque and suggestive of female forms, I coaxed out of hiding, using my favorite Prismacolor. I call them ‘Naiads,’ after the Ancient Greek water nymphs, the shape of the clay suggesting the pose of the nymph. The process was improvisational, as is most of my work once I decide on a theme.
The final sculptures are of imaginary beasts with trunks. These pieces relate back to a series of large soft sculptures I created in the early seventies, also of beasts with trunks. They are cut out of Alucobond, a material created to sheath buildings consisting of a plastic sandwiched between thin aluminum sheets. They are then painted to create the illusion of dimension on a flat surface, my favorite game. This series was originally made in 1976 and exhibited at the Cordier & Ekstrom Gallery in New York City. They have been repainted for this show.
About the Artist
Gillian was born in India in 1933. Her British parents were part of the twilight of the British Raj. Her father died young. Four years later Gillian, her mother and brother left India by boat, sailing on D Day for England during the second world war. Gillian completed her secondary education and entered The University of Reading, England to study Fine art and painting, a five year study. The next several years were spent teaching art and painting in England. At the call of adventure in January of 1963 Gillian moved to Dallas Texas, family members sponsored her entry to the United States. She worked in Dallas making paintings, creating embroidered wall hangings and teaching special classes. Her work was shown at the Contemporary Gallery. Marriage and a move to New York City took place in 1967 where she lived worked and showed her art in many exhibitions. Gillian became a us citizen in 1976.
The art gallery that gave her her most important one man shows was Cordier & Ekstrom on Madison Avenue in New York. Headed by Arne Ekstrom a well known art dealer who showed many noted artists in his gallery including, Isamu Noguchi, Romare Bearden, Richard Lindner, Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray he also fostered the talents of younger artists such as Marvin Israel, Anton Van Dalen and Nancy Grossman and Gillian Bradshaw-Smith among others.
Apart from creating fine art Gillian started to work on a large scale creating painted backdrops for publications and photographers. This work eventually led to a connection with the world of ballet and from recreating a ballet set for ‘Annabelle Lee’ for New York Theatre Ballet she went on to design and create over twenty ballet sets and continues to this day.
In addition she has been known in the world of stuffed animal toy design, having created many collections over a fifteen year period for several different makers. Possom trot was started with her designs and was well known for selling her famous mother pig that had snap fasteners for teets with suckling piglets that snapped on! Taplinger published her book ‘Adventures in Toymaking'.
She moved back to Dallas in 1995 and since, working with many noted interior designers, has created some very stunning walls ceilings and interior details for residential and commercial customers using all her talent and experience.
Gillian Bradshaw-Smith, Entanglements #1, 2023, Prismacolor on paper, 36 x 48 in.
Gillian Bradshaw-Smith, Entanglements #2, 2023, Prismacolor on paper, 36 x 48 in.
Gillian Bradshaw-Smith, Entanglements #3, 2023, Prismacolor on paper, 36 x 48 in.
Gillian Bradshaw-Smith, Entanglements #4, 2023, Prismacolor on paper, 36 x 48 in.
Gillian Bradshaw-Smith, Entanglements #5, 2023, Prismacolor on paper, 36 x 48 in.
Gillian Bradshaw-Smith, Entanglements #6, 2023, Prismacolor on paper, 36 x 48 in.
Gillian Bradshaw-Smith, Entanglements #7, 2023, Prismacolor on paper, 36 x 48 in.